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Our national observance of Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month begins today with a flag raising at noon on UW Medicine campuses. In celebrating our Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (ANHPI) colleagues — 25 percent of our UW Medicine community identifies as of these heritages — we also recognize that the communities we celebrate are highly diverse. Dozens of ethnicities and exponentially more unique languages and dialects are honored in this observance.

Grouping ANHPI peoples into a monolith masks a breadth of experiences and cultures. The diversity is vast with respect to immigration patterns, nativity or ancestry, culture and acculturation, languages, and educational and economic attainment. This is particularly important when we consider health inequities and outcomes, as ANHPI health data are commonly aggregated in a manner that obscures differences in healthcare needs.

This tendency is well documented in a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association which notes that U.S. health data are divided by demographic groups defined by the federal Office of Management and Budget with many ethnicities categorized as “Asian American.” Yet, health outcomes vary widely amidst subgroups. For example, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders have higher rates of Type 2 diabetes than other subgroups, Asian Indian and Filipino people have a higher rate of death from breast cancer and South Asians have a higher rate of cardiovascular mortality.

In other cases, subgroups have been left out completely. For example, a report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine about health disparities among racial and ethnic groups during the pandemic neglected to include Asians. Yet, the U.S. Asian population experienced double the percentage of COVID-19 deaths than the white population. By leaving subgroups out of research or aggregating subgroups into a single dataset, whole communities are ignored, and researchers are unaware of distinctions that could result in more meaningful clinical care.

In 2023, the Biden-Harris Administration committed to recognizing these ethnicities in data collecting and reporting. We are proud that UW Medicine faculty and staff are participating in the related National Institutes of Health (NIH) study to better understand chronic conditions within these populations. In keeping with this year’s national theme for ANHPI Heritage Month, Advancing Leaders Through Innovation, the UW Medicine colleagues working on the NIH initiative are among the good company of a myriad of UW Medicine employees — many of ANHPI heritage — who are marking the present and influencing the future for ANHPI communities. We are grateful for their contributions.

We also want to recognize the resilience and strength displayed by ANHPI individuals in the face of adversity, whether historical events, such as the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, or the recent heightened acts of racism toward Asian Americans during the pandemic or the ongoing struggles for sovereignty and environmental justice in Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.

UW Medicine is committed to dismantling prejudices that perpetuate discrimination and to creating inclusive spaces where everyone feels valued and empowered to succeed. For resources on equity, diversity, inclusion and justice, visit the Office of Healthcare Equity. The Huddle’s ANHPI Heritage Month page provides digital assets to take part in this month’s celebration and learning resources for all employees.

Please join us in honoring and celebrating the many rich heritages of our ANHPI colleagues and patients.


Timothy H. Dellit, MD
Chief Executive Officer, UW Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and
Paul G. Ramsey Endowed Dean of the School of Medicine,
University of Washington

Paula L. Houston, EdD
Chief Equity Officer
Office of Healthcare Equity, UW Medicine
Associate Vice President for Medical Affairs,
University of Washington

Bessie A. Young, MD
Vice Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Office of Healthcare Equity
UW Medicine Professor of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine,
University of Washington

Brad Simmons
President, UW Medicine Hospitals & Clinics
Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs,
University of Washington

Jacqueline Cabe
Chief Financial Officer, UW Medicine
Vice President for Medical Affairs,
University of Washington

Becca Kelly
Chief Advancement Officer, UW Medicine
Vice President for Medical Affairs,
University of Washington

Anneliese Schleyer, MD
Chief Medical Officer, UW Medicine
Vice President for Medical Affairs,
University of Washington

Cindy Hecker
Chief Executive Officer
UW Medical Center

Sommer Kleweno Walley
Chief Executive Officer
Harborview Medical Center

Jeannine Erickson Grinnell
Chief Executive Officer
Valley Medical Center

Erica Floyd
Interim Executive Director
UW Physicians

Pranika Laing
Interim Associate Vice President/Executive Director
UW Medicine Primary Care and Population Health

Jeff Richey
Executive Director
Airlift Northwest